Long love affair

Joshua Lucero: Staff photo Aircraft mechanic and inventor Robert Love explains the work that he is doing on a 1947 Stinson airplane at the Portales Municipal Airport. Love will be putting in the engine and the interior of plane.

Joshua Lucero: Staff photo
Aircraft mechanic and inventor Robert Love explains the work that he is doing on a 1947 Stinson airplane at the Portales Municipal Airport. Love will be putting in the engine and the interior of plane.

After living 80 years, local aircraft mechanic and church deacon Robert Love hasn’t stopped doing what he loves.

The former Air Force mechanic and inventor owns and operates an aircraft maintenance company called Love Aero Service, which he established in 1963 after moving to the area with his wife Lu.

Love has made a lasting mark on the world of aviation with his inventions that both ease and increase the safety of aircraft maintenance. Love has invented several tools over the years and has one more patent in the works.

What got you started in aircraft maintenance?
I got started in the Air Force. I kept with it because it was about the only trade I had. I worked with my dad helping with his work as a carpenter. I got to do a lot of the clean up after we finished a job and I decided that I just didn’t need that. It wasn’t too educational for me. That’s why I got into airplanes.

What is something from your time in the Air Force that sticks out in your memory?
I witnessed the testing of the H-bomb in 1953. I never will forget that. We were on Enewetok Island (now Enewetak Atoll) and I was over there during two tests they had. They had us stand on the beach and face away from that thing and I had my hands over my eyes and had my eyes closed, and I still say to this day I could see the bones in my fingers when that thing went off. One of them that they shot off … we thought we were going to have to evacuate the island because the wind changed, but it turned out it didn’t. It was quite an experience, I hope I never see anything like it again.

What is your proudest accomplishment from your career?
I received the Charley Taylor award in 2009 for 50 years in aviation. Charley Taylor was the mechanic that built the engine for the Wright brothers in six weeks.

What do you do with your time when you aren’t working on aircraft?
I like to go fishing and traveling.
Is there anyone you looked up to that helped make you who you are today? How did they influence you?
I looked up to my dad. He taught me the value of life. I also have a lot of good friends who I look up to?

What was your favorite vacation and why?
My favorite trip was to Washington D.C. I got to go to the Smithsonian Institute and I’ve always wanted to go there to see all the old airplanes and everything.

What was your first invention and how did it come about?
I invented a tool for installing Lycoming engines and Continental engines in airplanes. I came up with it because I had a need to make a job easier.

What is your family dynamic like?
We have two sons, Danny and Gary. Danny lives with his wife, Susan, in Fort Worth, Texas, and works at BNSF Railways. Gary and his wife, Carmen, live in Lubbock and he works with a pump company. We also have six grandkids and four great grandkids. Our oldest grandson, Kenny, lives in Albuquerque.

— Compiled by staff writer Joshua Lucero